climate

Run don’t walk

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{ as coastal homeowners face rising sea levels brought on by climate change, the state is increasingly approving sandbags and other structures that are speeding the loss of its beaches | ProPublica | full story }

Un cocktail, des Cocteau

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Deep Frozen Arctic Microbes Are Waking Up

In the last 10 years, warming in the Arctic has outpaced projections so rapidly that scientists are now suggesting that the poles are warming four times faster than the rest of the globe. This has led to glacier melt and permafrost thaw levels that weren’t forecast to happen until 2050 or later. In Siberia and northern Canada, this abrupt thaw has created sunken landforms, known as thermokarst, where the oldest and deepest permafrost is exposed to the warm air for the first time in hundreds or even thousands of years. […]

Permafrost covers 24 percent of the Earth’s land surface. […]

The layers may still contain ancient frozen microbes, Pleistocene megafauna and even buried smallpox victims. […] Other permafrost microbes (methanotrophs) consume methane. The balance between these microbes plays a critical role in determining future climate warming. […] Others are known but have unpredictable behavior after release. […]

Permafrost thaw in Siberia led to a 2018 anthrax outbreak and the death of 200,000 reindeer and a child.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

inkjet print and silkscreen ink on canvas { Richard Prince, Untitled (Cartoon), 2015 }

the number, another summer (get down), sound of the funky drummer

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The possibility of points-of-no-return in the climate system has been discussed for two decades. A point-of-no-return can be seen as a threshold which, once surpassed, fundamentally changes the dynamics of the climate system. For example, by triggering irreversible processes like melting of the permafrost, drying of the rainforests, or acidification of surface waters. Recently, Lenton et al. summarized the global situation and warned that thresholds may be closer in time than commonly believed.

The purpose of this article is to report that we have identified a point-of-no-return in our climate model—and that it is already behind us. ESCIMO is a climate model which we run from 1850 to 2500. In ESCIMO the global temperature keeps rising to 2500 and beyond, irrespective of how fast humanity cuts the emissions of man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. […]

To stop the self-sustained warming in ESCIMO, enormous amounts of CO2 have to be extracted from the atmosphere.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { John William Waterhouse, Pandora, 1898 }

Just bees and things and flowers

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{ Khi Solar One, the first solar thermal tower power plant on the African continent }

McCaper in retrophoebia, beck from bulk, like fantastic disossed and jenny aprils

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{ Tropical Malaise }

Reason leads to self-preservation

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The air conditioner is nearly 100 years old, and yet it hasn’t evolved much — the technology is essentially the same as it was the day it was invented.

The cooling of our air is responsible for 10% of the planet’s electricity consumption. […] As the world heats, demand for air conditioners will only grow, especially in developing countries. This, in turn, will increase the impact that cooling appliances have on the climate, thus warming the Earth further and creating a vicious cycle. […] There are 1.2 billion room air conditioning units installed today, but that figure will soar to 4.5 billion by 2050. […]

A new coalition — led by India’s government and America’s Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a nonprofit environmental research organization — has launched the Global Cooling Prize, a $1-million competition to design the next generation of air cooling systems. […] The prize’s judges have shortlisted eight finalists, who will now build functioning prototypes that will be tested both in a lab and in real-world conditions at an apartment block in Delhi. […] Three of the eight finalists are from India, three are from the US and one each from the UK and China. […] The overall winner will be announced in November 2020.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

images { Lissajous knots }

‘I shall not speak, I shall not think: But endless love will mount in my soul.’ –Rimbaud

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To test the relationship between ambient temperature and personality, we conducted two large-scale studies in two geographically large yet culturally distinct countries: China and the United States. […] Our findings provide a perspective on how and why personalities vary across geographical regions beyond past theories (subsistence style theory, selective migration theory and pathogen prevalence theory). As climate change continues across the world, we may also observe concomitant changes in human personality.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

photo { Dana Lixenberg, J 50, 1993 }

And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried

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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is based on the theory that some depressions occur seasonally in response to reduced sunlight. SAD has attracted cultural and research attention for more than 30 years and influenced the DSM through inclusion of the seasonal variation modifier for the major depression diagnosis. This study was designed to determine if a seasonally related pattern of occurrence of major depression could be demonstrated in a population-based study. A cross-sectional U.S. survey of adults completed the Patient Health Questionnaire–8 Depression Scale. […] Depression was unrelated to latitude, season, or sunlight. Results do not support the validity of a seasonal modifier in major depression. The idea of seasonal depression may be strongly rooted in folk psychology, but it is not supported by objective data.

{ Clinical Psychological Science | Continue reading }

photo { Daido Moriyama }

How do we know for sure than dinosaurs weren’t always skeletons?

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Two options for dealing with climate change — reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a global agreement, and geoengineering proposals such as injecting sulfur into the stratosphere — tend to dominate current thinking. But there is a “third way” that is almost entirely neglected in political negotiations and public debate. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it or using it to create things we need.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Because you took advantage of a sinner

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A team of researchers has found that releasing excess heat from air conditioners running during the night resulted in higher outside temperatures, worsening the urban heat island effect and increasing cooling demands. 

{ Phys | Continue reading }

scan { Hans-Peter Feldmann, Catalogue, 2012 }

‘Life must be understood backwards.’ —Kierkegaard

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Does temperature affect economic performance? Has temperature always affected social welfare through its impact on physical and cognitive function? While many studies have explored the indirect links between climate and welfare (e.g. agricultural yield, violent conflict, or sea-level rise), few address the possibility of direct impacts operating through human physiology. This paper presents a model of labor supply under thermal stress, building on a longstanding physiological literature linking thermal stress to health and task performance. […]

We find that hotter-than-average years are associated with lower output per capita for already hot countries and higher output per capita for cold countries: approximately 3%-4% in both directions.

{ SSRN | Continue reading }

related { Ambient temperatures can influence the growth or loss of brown fat in people }

Krzysztof, a physics professor, has more faith in computers and logic than in God. It is winter. His son, Pawel, anxious to try out a new pair of skates, asks him if he can go out to the local pond which has just frozen over. Krzysztof determines that the ice is thick enough through a series of scientific calculations. Pawel goes skating, the ice breaks, and he drowns.

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{ Collapse of Antarctic ice sheet is underway and unstoppable but will take centuries | What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze? }

quote { Krzysztof Kieślowski, The Decalogue I, 1988 }